Get thee behind me, New Media! I can resist you for half a day

For my New Media class this fall at UT Tyler, I had to go without using any new media — my iPhone, laptop, TV, radio, Internet, etc. — for at least half a day. Below is the first page of the three-page-long handwritten journal I kept of the experience.

 

First page of the journal I wrote during my new media "fast."

 

Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010
My house

9:15 a.m. A morning without new media and related electronic gadgets. I hadn’t planned to do this today, but  the electric company is trimming trees in our neighborhood, so the electricity went off at 9:15 a.m. I figured it was a sign, and I couldn’t do anything involving electronics without power, so I embarked on my new media-less adventure.

 

Oncor trucks doing something to the electric poles in our Tyler neighborhood on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010.

 

10:15 a.m. Sometime in the past few minutes the power came back on. I didn’t have any lights on in the room I’d been working in, so I don’t know exactly when it came on. I took the no-electricity opportunity to clean up maybe one-

 

View of my study from my recliner

 

twentieth of the clutter crowding my study. Several months ago, I moved a bunch of file boxes, stacks of books, and other assorted things around while I was searching for something (which I did NOT find). I’d never put the boxes and piles of stuff back, and they blocked me from using my small recliner. It’s in a corner, next to a tabletop fountain and a window, and is a good place to read. Plus, the light from the window would allow me to read without electricity. So I spent about an hour moving things around and carting some bags of clothes and other stuff out to my van so I can take them to Goodwill. I was just about ready to sit down and read when the electricity came back on.

 

Darwin, one of our four cats. The others are Heidi, Moseby, and Wallace.

 

10:35 a.m. I’m starting to read Huang’s “The Causes of Youths’ Low News Consumption and Strategies for Making Youths Happy News Consumers,” published in the International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies in 2009. “Happy news consumers”? That’s an interesting phrase. It must mean that they are or would be happy with the news choices that they have — NOT that the news makes them happy. [My hand is getting cramped from all this writing. It’s been MONTHS since I wrote this much by hand. My fancy Cross rollerball pen is heavy.]

 

Cleo wants to know why I'm not playing with her.

 

11:20 a.m. Reading is going slowly because Cleo, our rat terrier, wants attention. She keeps poking her nose in my lap, upsetting my lap desk with the journal paper and my yellow highlighter and pencil for notes in the margins. So I take time to play with her, pet her, and be smothered in licks. A man is talking outside in one of the neighbor’s yards. Someone is doing yard work. Cleo and Oscar, our springer spaniel, whine and bark when they hear the man.

My right hand was so sore from clutching my pen that I took my mittens that can be warmed in the microwave, warmed them up, then stuck my hand in them.

 

Cleo and Oscar

 

That helped a lot. The arthritis in my right hand is worse because I am on my laptop at least four or five hours almost every day. I grip the mouse too tightly for hours; then my hand is stiff and sore. During a conversation at the Health Science Center yesterday, I discovered that it’s the older doctors — the ones my age and older — who still use a mouse with the netbooks all the health-care professionals use now that we’ve gone to electronic medical records. All the younger doctors, the residents, and others use the touchpad on the netbook. Yet another generational divide in use of new media.

11:35 a.m. No more leaf-blowing going on next door, so I can hear the battery-powered clock on the wall ticking away. And the tabletop fountain is gurgling.

11:45 a.m. Getting sleepy, so I get up and go make hot chocolate in the kitchen. I also nuke the warmable inserts for my mittens so that I can warm my right hand again. It’s still a bit store, but better. I have read a grand total of four pages of “Making Youths Happy News Consumers.” I’ve fallen under the Slow Reading Spell again.

 

The tabletop fountain in my study

 

11:49 a.m. Mmmm. Fancy hot chocolate with hazelnut flavoring. The day is cool and bright and I’m not sitting in front of a computer screen typing or clicking away. Life is good.

 

Hazy view of the four o'clocks outside our dining room windows

 

11:57 a.m. Staring out our dining room windows at our sun-dappled tangle of four o’clocks. The shadows shift with the wind. Staring into nothing — day dreaming — woolgathering. I haven’t done this so freely in a while.

2:10 p.m. In the past couple of hours I finished reading “Making Youths Happy News Consumers,” while soaking my right hand in Epson salts and hot water. I took a shower and ate lunch. The first digital media device I used was my Nikon D40 SLR; I took photos of the view from my chair in my study where I was reading, and from the dining room table. Then I took a photo of the big electric company truck that has spent the day moving up and down the street.

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